Re: [RFC PATCH v3 0/7] Add virtio_rtc module and related changes

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


On 07.03.24 15:02, David Woodhouse wrote:
> On Mon, 2023-12-18 at 08:38 +0100, Peter Hilber wrote:
>> RFC v3 updates
>> --------------
>> This series implements a driver for a virtio-rtc device conforming to spec
>> RFC v3 [1]. It now includes an RTC class driver with alarm, in addition to
>> the PTP clock driver already present before.
>> This patch series depends on the patch series "treewide: Use clocksource id
>> for get_device_system_crosststamp()" [3]. Pull [4] to get the combined
>> series on top of mainline.
>> Overview
>> --------
>> This patch series adds the virtio_rtc module, and related bugfixes. The
>> virtio_rtc module implements a driver compatible with the proposed Virtio
>> RTC device specification [1]. The Virtio RTC (Real Time Clock) device
>> provides information about current time. The device can provide different
>> clocks, e.g. for the UTC or TAI time standards, or for physical time
>> elapsed since some past epoch. 
> Hm, should we allow UTC? If you tell me the time in UTC, then
> (sometimes) I still don't actually know what the time is, because some
> UTC seconds occur twice. UTC only makes sense if you provide the TAI
> offset, surely? Should the virtio_rtc specification make it mandatory
> to provide such?
> Otherwise you're just designing it to allow crappy hypervisors to
> expose incomplete information.

Hi David,

(adding virtio-comment@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for spec discussion),

thank you for your insightful comments. I think I take a broadly similar
view. The reason why the current spec and driver is like this is that I
took a pragmatic approach at first and only included features which work
out-of-the-box for the current Linux ecosystem.

The current virtio_rtc features work similar to ptp_kvm, and therefore can
work out-of-the-box with time sync daemons such as chrony.

As of RFC spec v3, UTC clock only is allowed. If mandating a TAI clock as
well, I am afraid that

- in some (embedded) scenarios, the TAI clock may not be available

- crappy hypervisors will pass off the UTC clock as the TAI clock.

For the same reasons, I am also not sure about adding a *mandatory* TAI
offset to each readout. I don't know user-space software which would
leverage this already (at least not through the PTP clock interface). And
why would such software not go straight for the TAI clock instead?

How about adding a requirement to the spec that the virtio-rtc device
SHOULD expose the TAI clock whenever it is available - would this address
your concerns?

>> PTP clock interface
>> -------------------
>> virtio_rtc exposes clocks as PTP clocks to userspace, similar to ptp_kvm.
>> If both the Virtio RTC device and this driver have special support for the
>> current clocksource, time synchronization programs can use
>> cross-timestamping using ioctl PTP_SYS_OFFSET_PRECISE2 aka
>> PTP_SYS_OFFSET_PRECISE. Similar to ptp_kvm, system time synchronization
>> with single-digit ns precision is possible with a quiescent reference clock
>> (from the Virtio RTC device). This works even when the Virtio device
>> response is slow compared to ptp_kvm hypercalls.
> Is PTP the right mechanism for this? As I understand it, PTP is a way
> to precisely synchronize one clock with another. But in the case of
> virt guests synchronizing against the host, it isn't really *another*
> clock. It really is the *same* underlying clock. As the host clock
> varies with temperature, for example, so does the guest clock. The only
> difference is an offset and (on x86 perhaps) a mathematical scaling of
> the frequency.
> I was looking at this another way, when I came across this virtio-rtc
> work.
> My idea was just for the hypervisor to expose its own timekeeping
> information — the counter/TSC value and TAI time at a given moment,
> frequency of the counter, and the precision of both that frequency
> (±PPM) and the TAI timestamp (±µs).
> By putting that in a host/guest shared data structure with a seqcount
> for lockless updates, we can update it as time synchronization on the
> host is refined, and we can even cleanly handle live migration where
> the guest ends up on a completely different host. It allows for use
> cases which *really* care (e.g. timestamping financial transactions) to
> ensure that there is never even a moment of getting *wrong* timestamps
> if they haven't yet resynced after a migration.

I considered a similar approach as well, but integrating that with the
kernel timekeeping seemed too much effort for the first step. However,
reading the clock from user space would be much simpler.

> Now I'm trying to work out if I should attempt to reconcile with your
> existing virtio-rtc work, or just decide that virtio-rtc isn't trying
> to solve the actual problem that we have, and go ahead with something
> different... ?

We are certainly interested into the discussed, say, "virtual timekeeper"
mechanism, which would also solve a lot of problems for us (especially if
it would be integrated with kernel timekeeping). Even without Linux kernel
timekeeping, the virtual timekeeper would be useful to us for guests with
simpler timekeeping, and potentially for user space applications.

Our current intent is to at first try to upstream the current (RFC spec v3)
feature set. I think the virtual timekeeper would be suitable as an
optional feature of virtio_rtc (with Virtio, this could easily be added
after initial upstreaming). It is also possible to have a virtio-rtc device
only implement the virtual timekeeper, but not the other clock reading
methods, if these are of no interest.

Best regards,


[Index of Archives]     [KVM Development]     [Libvirt Development]     [Libvirt Users]     [CentOS Virtualization]     [Netdev]     [Ethernet Bridging]     [Linux Wireless]     [Kernel Newbies]     [Security]     [Linux for Hams]     [Netfilter]     [Bugtraq]     [Yosemite Forum]     [MIPS Linux]     [ARM Linux]     [Linux RAID]     [Linux Admin]     [Samba]

  Powered by Linux